Fat Man’s Cafe to reopen as a cooking academy for kids
For anyone inspired by kids’ cooking shows, Lynette Colvin is offering a way in.
Her goal is to teach children between the ages of 8 and 12 how to make their own meals and to help them appreciate the health benefits that offers.
It all starts in September when she will launch All in Moderation Culinary Academy, a cooking school based out of the old Fat Man’s Cafe just off Palmetto Road in Devonshire.
“Approximately 15 years ago I created a business called N’Moderation. In its inception the focus was to prepare regular food in a healthier manner, as well as portion control,” said Ms Colvin, who still works full-time as a dental hygienist but followed her passion for nutrition and culinary arts and became a certified health coach.
“I started offering cooking classes to adults and children, mainly to teach them how to make meals healthier. More recently my focus has been on the youth, as there are a lot of skills that can be achieved when participating in a cooking class.”
When the pandemic hit she paused, and then moved to Zoom. International Cooking for Kids taught students how to make four meals from four countries over four months.
“Now that things are easing with the pandemic on-site classes are available, hence the introduction of AIMCA,” she said. “Some of the skills learnt will be language development, math ability, reading skills, scientific concepts, life skills and the skill of cooking real food for better health in the years to come.
“I decided to have a small academy for about six to ten children, to give them real hands-on instruction. because I think it's really important today [where we are] dealing with sick care versus healthcare.
“If we can get the kids in the kitchen more, they can learn more about cooking healthy. Eventually, that will be good for them as the years go by. That’s basically the whole idea behind it.”
Her plan is to start with basics such as a field trip to a farm, as many children “probably don't even realise where food comes from”. The next step is to take them into the kitchen.
“What I do find is that a lot of children will frown and say ‘I don't like that’ or ‘I don't want this’, but once they cook it, they eat it. Once they do it themselves, they really enjoy it.
“So that's basically it. Just get them in here to teach them about different things.”
Ms Colvin also offers a storytime and “cooking class” for toddlers who head home at the end with a treat they make with a bit of help.
“They come in with their parents and they just kind of muck about,” she said. “They get to play with the cups and measure out the flour and things like that. So I’ve worked with a lot of ages but, for the academy itself, it’s from eight onwards.
“At that age they’re able to comprehend a lot better and there's dexterity; their skills are better.
“When you cross over into different age groups you notice a difference between what they can actually handle – as far as holding the knife and things like that. So the dexterity changes, the mindset even changes.”
Although her work as a dental hygienist kept her busy, she decided to open the academy because of her passion for nutrition and the culinary arts. It then made sense to base it out of the popular Devonshire restaurant run by her late father, Kenny Minors.
“I like to do it and I just wanted to make a difference,” she said.
Her cooking journey began with the realisation that both her father and her grandmother on her mother’s side had diabetes.
“I started wondering, what kind of food is she eating? So that's how I started, I started prepping meals for her – my dad was kind of bull-headed. And then it just became, ‘Hey, I can start helping people by doing this.’
“Amazingly, the people that would really benefit from it, it didn't seem like they were really coming inasmuch as I thought they would.”
In 2010 she had “a good following” of people requesting her healthy meals. When the demand “slowed down” Ms Colvin gave “actual cooking classes to show [clients] how to do it versus someone else doing it for them”.
She then decided to offer classes to children figuring it was a way to get them hooked on a healthier lifestyle early.
“I don’t know what drives the children, I really don’t. I just know that they like it. I don't think they're looking at it as, ‘Oh, I'm going to cook this meal because it's going to make me healthier’ or ‘I’m going to cook this because I want to learn about things that are better for me’. But they do like to get in there and do things.”
She intends to first teach her students the basics of cooking – how to crack eggs, how to make entire meals from scratch.
It’s the same type of effort she will expect from students at her three-day cooking camp that starts on Monday.
From 9am until 5.30pm children between the ages of 8 and 12 will “learn how to prepare healthy meals and enjoy them”.
“Teaching children to cook is a powerful learning experience. As your child learns to cook they will learn what it takes to nourish their bodies, which is good for now and in the future,” Ms Colvin said.
To register for classes or for more information: www.shopnmoderation.com